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Online Colleges in Virginia

Most Affordable Online Colleges
Article Sources

Sources:

  1. A Stronger Virginia through Higher Education: A policy brief from Lumina Foundation, Lumina Foundation, 2014, http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/downloads/pdfs/virginia-brief-2014.pdf
  2. American National University, https://www.an.edu/online/
  3. Argosy University, https://www.argosy.edu/locations/washington-dc/
  4. Averett University, http://gps.averett.edu/online-offerings/
  5. Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program Overview, Sentara College of Health Sciences, http://www.sentara.edu/academics/bachelor-science-nursing-program/rn-bsn-licensed-rns
  6. Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing, http://www.bsmcon.edu/rn-bsn
  7. C2ER, The Cost of Living Index, http://www.coli.org/
  8. CollegeNavigator, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
  9. Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, http://www.ed2go.com/dslcc/
  10. Distance Education, New River Community College, http://www.nr.edu/de/degrees.php
  11. Distance Learning, Rappahannock Community College, https://www.rappahannock.edu/academics/distance-learning
  12. Distance Learning/Online, Mountain Empire Community College, http://www.mecc.edu/distance-learning/
  13. Eastern Shore Community College, http://es.vccs.edu/academics/programs-and-courses/distance-learning/
  14. Economy at a Glance: Richmond, VA, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016, http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.va_richmond_msa.htm
  15. Economy at a Glance: Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016, http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.dc_washington_md.htm
  16. ECPI University, http://www.ecpi.edu/online
  17. Electronic Campus of Virginia, http://www.e-cva.org/
  18. Electronic Campus, Southern Regional Education Board, https://secure.electroniccampus.org/
  19. Everest College, http://www.everestonline.edu/
  20. Fortis College-Richmond, http://www.fortis.edu/campuses/virginia/richmond/2000-westmoreland-street-suite-a-richmond-va.aspx
  21. Help Wanted: Virginia, Center on Education and the Workforce, Georgetown University, 2010, https://georgetown.app.box.com/s/ebiqui38h4jmlv5igrjr
  22. ITT Technical Institute, http://www2.itt-tech.edu/itt-tech/programs/
  23. John Tyler Community College, http://jtcc.edu/academics/academic-programs/
  24. Kristin Palmer, interview with the author, March 2015
  25. Liberty University, http://www.liberty.edu/online/
  26. Lord Fairfax Community College, https://www.lfcc.edu/lfcc-online/
  27. May 2015 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_47900.htm
  28. May 2015 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_47260.htm
  29. May 2015 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_47900.htm
  30. May 2015 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: Richmond, VA," Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_40060.htm
  31. Old Dominion University, http://dl.odu.edu/
  32. Online Degree Programs, Virginia Baptist College, http://www.vbc.edu/degree-programs
  33. Online Programs, Norfolk State University, https://www.nsu.edu/sel/nsuonline/online-programs#UndergraduatePrograms
  34. Piedmont Virginia Community College, http://www.pvcc.edu/academics/instructional-divisions/workforce-
  35. Programs at Southwest Virginia Community College, Southwest Virginia Community College, http://sw.edu/catalogs/programs-of-study/
  36. Regent University, http://www.regent.edu/academics/online_courses/regent_online_overview.cfm
  37. State & County QuickFacts: Richmond city, Virginia, U.S. Census Bureau, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/51/51760.html
  38. Stratford University, http://www.stratford.edu/content-pages/campuses/online-programs
  39. Table 1. Civilian labor force and unemployment by state and metropolitan area, Economic News Release, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/metro.t01.htm
  40. The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs, The U.S. Department of Education, http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/
  41. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, 2012, research.schev.edu
  42. The University of Virginia, http://www.scps.virginia.edu/locations/online
  43. Virginia and The Southern Regional Education Board, The Southern Regional Education Board, July 2014, http://publications.sreb.org/2014/VA_SREB_June2014.pdf
  44. Virginia Beach Area Employment - June 2016, Mid-Atlantic Information Office, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016, http://www.bls.gov/ro3/cesvb.htm
  45. Virginia Commonwealth University, http://online.vcu.edu/
  46. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, http://www.vto.vt.edu/
  47. Web Based Courses + Programs, Rappahannock Community College, https://www.rappahannock.edu/academics/distance-learning/web-based-programs
  48. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, http://www.sacscoc.org/
  49. Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, http://www.acics.org/
  50. Granville P. Meade Scholarship, Accessed September 2016, http://www.doe.virginia.gov/instruction/virginia_scholarships/granville_meade/index.shtml
  51. The Lee-Jackson Foundation Scholarship, Accessed September 2016 http://www.lee-jackson.org/
  52. My Political Hero Essay Contest, Accessed September 2016 http://www.mypoliticalhero.org/
  53. Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, Federal Student Aid, Accessed September 2016, https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service
  54. Students: Paying for College, State Council for Higher Education for Virginia, Accessed September 2016, http://www.schev.edu/index/students-and-parents/pay
  55. Virginia 529, http://www.virginia529.com/529plans/why-virginia529/
  56. Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program, Virginia Department of Education, Accessed September 2016, http://www.doe.virginia.gov/teaching/financial_support/index.shtml
  57. The Tuition Assistance Grant Program, State Council for Higher Education for Virginia, Accessed September 2016, http://www.schev.edu/index/tuition-aid/financialaid/state-student-aid/tuition-assistance-grant-program
  58. Virginia Commonwealth Award, State Council for Higher Education for Virginia, Accessed September 2016, http://www.schev.edu/index/tuition-aid/financialaid/state-student-aid/virginia-commonwealth-award-program
  59. Workforce Credential Grant, State Council for Higher Education for Virginia, Accessed September 2016, http://www.schev.edu/index/tuition-aid/financialaid/state-student-aid/workforce-credential-grant
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Named for Queen Elizabeth and sometimes called "the Mother of Presidents," the state of Virginia has greatness written into its very name. Living up to this greatness is the state's long tradition of higher education -- the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg is the nation's second oldest college, after all. To think that Virginia cares solely about its august brick-and-mortar institutions is to do this state a grave disservice, however. Before online education was even possible, Virginia was conveying distance education to its students… by satellite, through the Virginia Satellite Educational Network (VSEN)!

Though education is no longer being beamed across Virginia by satellite dish, online education has sprung up in its wake, empowering new, old, returning and transferring students to pursue learning on their own time and in their own ways. A prominent example is Virtual Virginia, a program of the Virginia Department of Education that provides distance learning opportunities to middle and high school students. Another example is the state's participation in the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB)'s Electronic Campus, a database of nearly 25,000 online courses and more than 2,500 online degree programs from schools throughout the South. As of May 2014, 56 Virginia institutions participated in the SREB's Electronic Campus.

Currently, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia is working on a plan for a "combined cooperative degree program" whereby any enrolled undergraduate student at any public or private nonprofit institution of higher education may complete a degree program online "at a tuition cost not to exceed $4,000, or such cost that is achievable, per academic year." The first two universities involved in this initiative will be George Mason University (GMU) and Old Dominion University (ODU).

Best Online Colleges in Virginia

Virginia's fine private and public institutions both offer students a variety of online degree programs. Below are listed the top 10 online colleges in Virginia, based on data from the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and analyzed with our unique methodology (see the bottom of this page for details).

1

Liberty University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$15,080
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
90.09%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
74
School Type
4-year

A pioneer in distance education since 1985, Liberty University has been nationally recognized by several organizations for excellence in education. Home of the Division I Flames, distance learners can light their path to higher education with a choice of hundreds of associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees that can all be completed entirely online. Available fields of study include education, aviation, government, behavioral sciences and business. Online students have generous access to a multitude of academic resources, including online tutoring, an online writing center, study aids and IT support. The university even provides an Office of Online Student Life, where students can watch campus events, connect with campus pastors and counselors, join student support groups and discover student counseling resources. Liberty University makes it easy for students to transfer previously earned credits and/or to earn credit for past life experiences, such as military training or workplace experience.

2

Old Dominion University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$9,480
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
37.87%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
39
School Type
4-year

Old Dominion University has been educating students at a distance for over 30 years. Today, their online programs allow students to complete a bachelor's, master's or doctorate degree almost completely online. Fields of study include finance, criminal justice, aerospace engineering, nursing, and sports management. The university provides online learners with academic advisors, technical support, and academic resources such as tutoring, mentoring, online libraries and online tutorials through the Writing Center. They even offer practical tips for online learners, such as how to earn your degree with a full-time job, and provide an Online Student's Guide to ODU Traditions to help students feel close even when they're learning at a distance. Old Dominion University is also a Military Friendly Schools Gold Award recipient, as they tailor certain degree programs towards the credits earned through prior military experience.

3

Regent University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$16,438
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
86.47%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
20
School Type
4-year

Just as a "regent" is defined as someone representing a king in his absence, students of Regent University are those who represent Christ in whatever field their calling may be. With the choice of over 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, online learners can find that calling in fields of business, film, theology, health care, information systems technology and many more. The university aims to provides superior education grounded in faith, which is why its online courses are taught by the same prestigious professors that teach on campus, including five Fulbright Scholars. To ensure that students are ready to become online learners, Regent University provides a series of online learning tips and a free introductory course to help students become accustomed to the digital classroom before they decide to take the leap. Transfer students can obtain credit towards their bachelor's degree for previous college-level coursework, military credit, Advanced Placement exams, experiential credit and more.

4

George Mason University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$10,952
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
23.29%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
25
School Type
4-year

As Virginia's largest public research university, George Mason University offers online learners a choice of over 50 program options in various fields, including both fully online and hybrid courses in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. GMU's online Bachelor of Science in nursing program is even ranked as one of the best in the nation. However, this university places great emphasis not only on the quality of its education, but also the accessibility of its resources. Online students can make virtual appointments with the Online Writing Lab, remotely access library resources, obtain strategies for online learning success and even benefit from health and wellness resources at a distance. And despite their distance, GMU also encourages online students to become engaged in organizations, leadership experiences and school spirit; students near and far are inspired to cheer on the school's Patriots in a variety of Division I sports.

5

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$12,485
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
27.98%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
13
School Type
4-year

Best known as simply "Virginia Tech," Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University offers multiple online and blended Master's degree programs to fit students' needs. Students can choose to pursue programs in urban planning, education, foreign languages, ocean engineering and environmental sciences, to name a few. Online students have access to advisors, library resources, career services, counseling, tutoring from the Student Success Center and much more, all at a distance. Dedicated to the spirit of community regardless of physical location, Virginia Tech strives to provide online learners with a sense of belonging as part of Hokie Nation. A bit of fun school trivia: the term "Hokie" actually originated when it was used in a new school cheer, now known as Old Hokie, in the late 1800s, after it was decided that the college's full name was just too long to use when cheering on the school.

6

University of Virginia

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$14,295
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
5.47%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
32
School Type
4-year

Among the University of Virginia's online education offerings are several online courses in business, a Bachelor of Professional Studies in health sciences management program, a Master of Education in curriculum & instruction program, and multiple Master of Engineering degree programs, which have been ranked as some of the best in the entire country. Prospective transfer students should note that a limited number of transfer students are admitted, and successful transfer applicants who enroll at UVA must spend at least two full years in residency at the university. Resources may vary by program of study, but generally, online students are afforded access to academic advisors and graduate coordinators for master's programs. Education students also have access to webinar information sessions where they can discuss techniques, research, and speak directly with faculty. And of course, even online students can cheer on UVA's Division I athletics teams, the Cavaliers, led by the school's mascot, the mustachioed "Cav Man."

7

College of William and Mary

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$16,919
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
1.38%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
N/A
School Type
4-year

The College of William and Mary offers an online Master's in Business Administration degree program, citing it as a revolutionary program that prepares students to tackle today's business challenges and design tomorrow's solutions. Through the program, students are connected with a diverse global network of world-class faculty and professionals already thriving in the business world. Students also have access to career services, academic advising, 24/7 technology support and a team of dedicated Student Success Coordinators to help each student develop their personalized success plan and follow it throughout their program. The college even maintains its own Online MBA Blog to help keep students connected to the latest ideas in their field. The College of William and Mary offers various undergraduate online summer courses in the Arts & Sciences, but no other fully online degree programs. Also, don't forget to follow the "Tribe" and root on the college's Division I sports teams!

8

James Madison University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$10,018
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
11.33%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
10
School Type
4-year

James Madison University provides a few options for students who would like to obtain their master's degree online. Students can choose from an online master's program in mathematics, speech language pathology or computer science: information security. Undergraduate students may wish to start or complete their bachelor's degree online with JMU's offering of an Adult Degree program as well as an RN to BSN program. JMU strives to offer online students the same access to academic resources as on-campus students, such as the center for Career and Academic Planning, the Counseling Center, Digital Communication Consulting, Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS), the Science and Math Learning Center, the University Writing Center, and many more. On-campus and online students alike can put on their purple and gold to cheer on the Division I Dukes led by their mascot, the Duke Dog, both of which are named after Samuel Page Duke, president of James Madison University in the mid-1900s.

9

Virginia Baptist College

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$5,540
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
74.07%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
7
School Type
4-year

Virginia Baptist College launched its Video Conferencing Center pilot program in the fall semester of 2003 to transmit courses to other centers in real-time. The technology was cutting-edge at the time, and VBC has certainly continued to keep up with the vast improvements that have been made to the distance education model since then. Today, the college offers associate, bachelor's, and master's degree programs in both ministry and Christian education, as well as an additional master's degree program in biblical studies. Since these are the same degree programs offered on-campus, online students have access to all of the same student resources as their in-person counterparts, including academic advisors and the school's Grafton Library.

10

Radford University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$9,809
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
24.14%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
5
School Type
4-year

Radford University has online course offerings in various fields, from visual and performing arts to communications. The university also offers 100 percent online degree programs leading to a Master's of Fine Arts in design thinking, or a Master's of Arts or Sciences in criminal justice. Online courses are offered in fully online, hybrid, synchronous and asynchronous formats, so students have many options at their disposal when registering for their classes. Radford University has embraced the State Policy on Transfer in order to encourage the transfer of students from the Virginia Community College system. This means that students with an appropriate associate degree from one of these community colleges may enter Radford and be considered to have already satisfied the university's core curriculum requirements. Whether on-campus or online, be sure to cheer on the Division I Radford Highlanders, named as such in celebration of the Scottish heritage of Southwest Virginia.

Affordable Online Colleges in Virginia

The following list presents some of the most affordable two- and four-year schools in Virginia. Tuition figures are reported by the schools to the National Center for Education Statistics and reflect in-state tuition.

For students interested in other measures of quality aside from affordability, the Top Colleges tool provides multiple rankings of Virginia schools based on such measures.

Affordable Two-Year Online Colleges in Virginia

Two-year schools are especially suited for those who are seeking to earn an associate degree or who want to spend their first couple years at a smaller school before enrolling at a university to earn a bachelor's degree. The following five schools are some of the most affordable in Virginia.

College NameTuition & Fees/Year
Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Distance Education Participation
Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Number of Online Programs Offered
Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics..
School Type
Southwest Virginia Community College$4,33562.00%152-year
Paul D Camp Community College$4,34038.83%N/A2-year
John Tyler Community College$4,34532.80%102-year
Dabney S Lancaster Community College$4,35026.62%N/A2-year
Southside Virginia Community College$4,35031.27%62-year

Affordable Four-Year Online Colleges in Virginia

An increasing number of four-year schools in Virginia are offering online degree programs and online classes. Students can earn their bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees completely through online programs at some colleges. Additional online classes and degree programs are being added each year. The following are several of the most affordable four-year schools in Virginia.

College NameTuition & Fees/Year
Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Distance Education Participation
Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Number of Online Programs Offered
Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics..
School Type
Sentara College of Health Sciences$2,189N/A14-year
Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing$5,081N/A14-year
Virginia Baptist College$5,54074.07%74-year
Virginia Beach Theological Seminary$7,730N/A14-year
Virginia University of Lynchburg$7,88016.42%74-year

College Accreditation in Virginia

Choosing a properly accredited online college in Virginia is as important a decision as choosing the correct major and minor to study. Accreditation means that educational programs adhere to widely accepted quality standards, and students' degree are valid.

There are several nationally recognized accrediting bodies for colleges, universities, community colleges and technical schools in Virginia, including the following:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)

Prior to enrolling in an online college in Virginia, students should check with the Department of Education to see how their prospective institution is accredited.

School Interviews

The online degree programs and courses being offered by many schools are always changing and expanding. To help us understand how schools approach teaching students through distance education, we interviewed an expert in the field.

 Kristin Palmer
I anticipate more online learning options from universities and companies … I anticipate more content will be developed and more options will be available …

Kristin Palmer

Director of Online Learning Programs

University of Virginia

Q. Can you tell us a little about the online programs offered at the University of Virginia?

UVa offers a range of online courses, online certificate programs and online degree (undergraduate and graduate) programs. Most courses are for college credit and are based on tuition rates. Online degree programs are offered in Engineering, Nursing, Arts & Sciences, Education, and Continuing and Professional Studies. There are 14 certificate granting programs in Education, Commerce, Nursing, Engineering and Education. There are seven mixed online and offline degree-granting programs in Engineering, Education, Commerce and Business. There are also free online courses offered on Coursera and iTunes U. These free courses do not provide credit.

Q. What advice would you give to students interested in an online degree program?

If you are interested in taking an online degree program, I would recommend first taking a free online course through Coursera or iTunes U. These courses are known as massive open online courses, or MOOCs. MOOCs range in rigor but they can provide insight for the learner on the experience of taking an online course. MOOCs include various technologies such as discussion forums, video lectures and online assessments. MOOCs are a no-cost, no-risk option for seeing if the learner can be self-directed, satisfied, and successful with the format of online learning.

Q. How do you anticipate online learning might evolve in the coming years?

I anticipate more online learning options from universities and companies. Increasingly, residential undergraduate students are coming to campus having already taken online courses and equipped with smart devices such as smart phones, tablets and laptops. More content is being provided online in smaller segments. We are increasingly seeing the unbundling of content into smaller discreet segments that can be grouped together to cover a larger topic. I anticipate more content will be developed and more options will be available to the learner to group this content to create specializations and certificates. I also assume more online content will be available for just-in-time training.

Financial Aid in Virginia

The State Council for Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV) is the body that circulates information about financial aid opportunities to Virginia college students. Through their website, students can gain a wealth of helpful information, such as an introduction to Virginia529, the country's largest tax-incentive college savings plan. For more resources on how the state of Virginia sets its college students up for financial success, read our summary of scholarships, grants and loans below.

Virginia Scholarships

Most of Virginia's scholarship opportunities are decentralized into institutions of higher learning. Students should check with their chosen institution for a complete list of the scholarship opportunities available to them. Here are three scholarships that are offered to students directly, rather than through a college or university:

This scholarship is for graduating Virginia high school students who have achieved academically, but who need assistance to attend a college or university in Virginia. Students are asked to submit scholarship applications to their high school principals.

  • Application deadline:  March 11
  • Award amount: $2,000 per year for four years
  • Number of scholarships awarded:  Approximately 5 per year
  • Renewable: Yes
  • Minimum GPA:  None
  • Merit vs. need-based:  Both
  • Ethnicity: All
  • Academic status:  Graduating high school senior
  • Residency required: Yes
This foundation honors the memory of two Virginians, General Robert E. Lee and General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, by offering educational scholarships to Virginia high school students to attend college. To apply, students must write an analytical essay on the career and legacy of one of these two historical figures.

  • Application deadline:  Mid-February
  • Award amount: $1,000-$10,000
  • Number of scholarships awarded: 18
  • Renewable:  No
  • Minimum GPA:  None
  • Merit vs. need-based: Merit
  • Ethnicity: All
  • Academic status:  Must be a high school student planning to attend a four-year college full-time
  • Residency required:  Yes
The nonprofit organization Virginians for Integrity in Government offers this scholarship to the student who writes the most compelling essay about their living political heroes and heroines.

  • Application deadline:  May 1st
  • Award amount: $2,000, plus $1,000 runner-up prizes
  • Number of scholarships awarded: Not specified
  • Renewable: No
  • Minimum GPA:  None
  • Merit vs. need-based:  Merit
  • Ethnicity: All
  • Academic status:  Must currently be a Virginia high school student
  • Residency required:  Yes

For more on scholarships, see our Ultimate Guide to Scholarships.

Virginia Grants

While scholarships tend to focus on merit-based awards, grants are typically awarded with consideration to the financial situation of the student. Here are three examples of the need-based financial aid available to students in the state of Virginia:

The funds for this need-based award are funneled directly to the institution of higher education and are distributed from there. To be considered, a student must be admitted at least half-time to a two-year or four-year college in Virginia, be a resident of Virginia and demonstrate financial need. Graduate students must be enrolled full-time.

  • Application deadline:  Varies
  • Award amount:  Contact your college or university for deadline and application details.
This grant aims to help state residents who are attending private, nonprofit colleges in Virginia; there is a list of 31 approved schools available on the state Council of Higher Education website. The grant is available to undergraduate and graduate students, but the latter must be pursuing health-related programs to be eligible.

  • Application deadline:  Undergraduate $3,200; Graduate $1,600
  • Award amount:  July 31st
The goal of this grant, initiated by the General Assembly, is to provide Virginia residents with training in high-demand fields. Virginia community colleges are currently the primary location where these grants are available.

  • Application deadline:  Two-thirds of the cost of enrollment
  • Award amount:  Contact your local community college for deadline and application details.

Want more on grants? Check out the Ultimate Guide to Grants.

Virginia Loans

The state of Virginia no longer offers college loans to students directly. SCHEV, which sets the rules for state financial aid, has passed the responsibility of handling applications for student loans to the individual institutions of higher learning. For example, the University of Virginia, like many universities in the state, processes their student loans through the federal government. The first step for any loan is to apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines a student's eligibility for financial support. In addition to federal loan programs, the state offers two loan forgiveness programs. See the details below for more information.

With this program, a teacher who has taught full-time for five years in educational settings that serve low-income families could be eligible for forgiveness on certain loans.

  • Application deadline:  Check with the Virginia Department of Education for more information.
  • Award amount:  Check with the Virginia Department of Education for more information.
Employees at government organizations and not-for-profit organizations may be eligible for this program, which forgives the remaining balance on Direct Loans. Candidates must work full-time and have made at least 120 payments.

  • Application deadline:  Contact your federal loan servicer for more information.
  • Award amount:  Contact your federal loan servicer for more information.

For more information on loans, read the Ultimate Guide to Student Loans.

Additional Resources for Financial Aid in Virginia

Featured Cities in Virginia

Regardless of what field you earn your online degree in, before starting your career, it pays to learn where your degree is most valued. In most cities, a bachelor's or master's degree means a higher salary, but that advantage can be undercut if the cost of living is high or the number of college-educated residents in a certain area is also high. To help you decide where to live, we've compiled the following snapshots of the key metro areas of Virginia, using data sourced from the 2015 American Community Survey (census.gov).

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metro Area

Total Population

5,949,403

Median salary for high school grads

$32,392

Median salary with a bachelor's degree

$66,060

% of the population enrolled in college or grad school

31%

Median rent

$1,498

Fun Facts

Arlington and Alexandria border the nation's capital, as well as all of the opportunities and cultural highlights that accompany it. It is not uncommon for workers and students to live in one of these major Virginia cities to save on housing costs, then commute by mass transit to D.C. proper for work, school or a fun day trip. Because key museums and monuments like the Museum of National History, the Washington Monument and the National Air and Space Museum are supported by U.S. tax dollars, they do not charge for admission -- a major perk for those living on a college budget.

Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC Metro Area

Total Population

1,706,878

Median salary for high school grads

$29,289

Median salary with a bachelor's degree

$48,212

% of the population enrolled in college or grad school

34%

Median rent

$1,086

Fun Facts

First colonized in the early 1600s, the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News metro area has a long history. It played a key role in a number of major historical events, including the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War. Students can visit a plethora of key monuments, sites and museums or just unwind on the beach.

Richmond, VA Metro Area

Total Population

1,246,215

Median salary for high school grads

$30,316

Median salary with a bachelor's degree

$50,967

% of the population enrolled in college or grad school

29.1%

Median rent

$988

Fun Facts

According to the website Visit Richmond, Richmond is home to six Fortune 500 companies, more than any other city in Virginia. Residents and visitors can take advantage of the area's numerous sporting events, which include two major NASCAR races a year. Other key cultural attractions are the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Kings Dominion, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and numerous Civil War sites. The Atlantic Ocean, the Blue Ridge Mountains and Washington D.C. are all within a quick two-hour drive of the city.

 
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